Monday, December 30, 2013

Triple-Chocolate Cheesecake from Abigail Johnson Dodge in Fine Cooking Magazine


I needn’t tell you the Sweets Factory at our house has been in overdrive ever since we arrived here for the holidays.  There have been dozens of cookies, a Red Velvet Cake, even a Norwegian “Fyrstekake” a Cardomon Almond confection, beautifully decorated with star-shaped pastry.  But I would have to say that the piece de resistance so far this season has been a Cheesecake that combined three kinds of chocolate – cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate and chocolate graham cracker crust.  It was a cheesecake lovers dream. But Andrew still managed to gild the lily by topping the cake with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.  This cake serves at least 16 people.  It was taken to a dinner party and then brought home and it’s been steadily diminishing in size ever since.   It is the perfect thing to bake for New Year’s Eve because it will actually taste even better tomorrow.  Andrew assures me it is easy to make.  I’ll take his word for it.  And also pass on a couple of hints he wanted to share with you. And here they are. Thanks to Andrew and Abigail Johnson Dodge who shared the recipe in Fine Cooking, one of our go-to sources for great recipes.
    1. The key to a perfect cheesecake is in not overwhipping the batter.  If you start with the cream cheese at room temperature you’ll get the best results.  Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer will cream the ingredients together without adding air to the mix.   Add the eggs once the batter is smooth and add them one at a time until they’re just blended.
2  2. Unsweetened, natural Cocoa powder is absolutely essential to the filling.  It both enriches and mellows out the flavor of the bittersweet chocolate.  While many cheesecake recipes call for flour to stabilize the cream cheese, cocoa power does this without changing the texture.  The instant coffee or expresso granules add a final blast of richness that really put this cake over the top. Now here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Triple-Chocolate Cheesecake from Abigail Johnson Dodge in Fine Cooking Magazine.
For the crust:
1-1/2 cups very finely crushed chocolate cookie crumbs (Andrew used used Chocolate Graham Crackers)
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
     1/2 cup sour cream
     2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
     1 tsp. instant coffee granules or espresso powder
     8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
     3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
     3 Tbs. natural, unsweetened cocoa powder. Must be sifted!!
     1/4 tsp. table salt
     1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
     3 large eggs, at room temperature
Make the crust: Heat the oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon (if using) until blended. Drizzle with the melted butter and mix until well blended and the crumbs are evenly moist. 

Dump the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan (to press, use plastic wrap, a straight-sided, flat-based coffee mug, or a tart tamper). Bake for 10 minutes and set on a wire rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

Make the filling: Mix the sour cream, vanilla, and coffee granules in a small bowl. Set aside and stir occasionally until the coffee dissolves.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, cocoa powder, and salt until very smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl and paddle frequently (and with each subsequent addition). Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth. Scrape the cooled chocolate into the bowl; beat until blended. Beat in the sour cream mixture until well blended. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended. (Don’t overbeat the filling once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.) 

Pour the filling over the cooled crust, spread evenly, and smooth the top. 

Bake at 300°F until the center barely jiggles when nudged, 50 to 60 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed, with a few little cracks around the edge. Let cool to room temperature on a rack and then refrigerate until well chilled, at least a few hours, or overnight for the best texture and flavor. (This cake freezes well, too: Put the unmolded cake in the freezer, uncovered, until the top is cold and firm, and then wrap it in two layers of plastic and one layer of foil.)
To serve: Unclasp the pan’s ring, remove it, and run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom crust. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate. 
Top the cake with fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife as needed.